How to Perfectly Season Your Thanksgiving Turkey

POPSUGAR Photography | Nicole Perry
POPSUGAR Photography | Nicole Perry

These are the foolproof methods to seasoning a turkey to ensure maximum flavor and juiciness. Before you even think about cooking your Thanksgiving turkey at the perfect temperature, you have to know how to season it. From figuring out the right amount of salt to the best blend of spices and herbs, it can be daunting to prepare an entire turkey that you hope the whole family will love. See below for our easy tips for seasoning a turkey.

How to Season a Turkey: Salt Liberally

First things first: your raw turkey needs a lot of salt. The right amount of salt for a turkey is two tablespoons of kosher salt plus one teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper. It's recommended to sprinkle the salt and pepper evenly on the outside of the turkey, as well as a little bit inside the cavity, and then refrigerate uncovered for one to two days prior to cooking. The salt permeates the meat and makes it even juicier, while the skin will dry out slightly and crisp up in the oven.

How to Season a Turkey: Brine the Easy Way

When you follow those steps for salting a turkey, you're essentially taking a brining shortcut — as you should. The difficulty with brining, or soaking in salty liquid, is it requires a big bucket or container to fit in your fridge. Moreover, some say that brined turkey can be too juicy — even waterlogged. Dry brining a turkey eliminates the hassle while still resulting in the same level of flavor.

POPSUGAR Photography | Nicole Perry

How to Season a Turkey: Choose the Right Herbs

An herb-roasted turkey is an elegant and more sophisticated way to go. Earthy, fresh herbs like rosemary, sage, and thyme are the ultimate match for turkey. When combined with garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper, and lemon juice, the herb coating easily spreads all over the turkey and under the skin. Additionally, stuff the cavity with whole sprigs of herbs that you can easily remove after roasting.

How to Season a Turkey: Coat in Compound Butter

Compound butter, or butter seasoned with spices and herbs, is a fantastic addition to most meats, especially turkey. Make a compound herb butter with unsalted butter, sage, rosemary, thyme, and salt for an irresistible herb-butter roasted turkey. Spread the butter evenly over the skin and inside the cavity of the turkey for golden-brown skin and flavorful drippings for a pan gravy. You can even use the leftover compound butter dolloped on top of your mashed potatoes.